Strength in Simplicity

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-By Aleisha Parr

Densford Civil, a leading civil engineering and construction company operating throughout WA, demonstrates just how important a strong financial position can be. The company, which has an annual turnover of approximately $30 million, has consistently operated profitably in every year of its operations and continues to build on its assets through reinvestment of its profits. The company’s strong financial base and cash flow have allowed it to grow so as to meet the needs of larger and more demanding projects, including a recent project for the Public Transport Authority and a massive coastal renewal project in the works for Australand.

General Manager Mark Armstrong explains the method behind Densford Civil’s success: “It’s really just reinvesting in the company, nothing fancy about that. Profit is not front-of-mind for the directors; it’s about the people we’ve employed and their health and well-being and their prosperity, and that obviously benefits the wider community.”

After nearly twenty years of weathering the sometimes erratic markets of the construction industry, Densford Civil has never made a staff member redundant. The company, which started out in 1991 with a staff of three, now employs approximately sixty full time workers, supplemented by a strong and diverse contractor workforce. Reports Mr Armstrong: “Our strength is that we genuinely are here because the directors feel responsible not only to their clients but also to their creditors and their employees. We’re really here for the employees because ultimately, if they don’t enjoy [the work], what’s the point?”

With the current industry trends of high turnover rates and short-term worker engagements, this perspective is rather unique in the industry, though it exemplifies Densford Civil’s particular concept for sustaining a successful business in today’s tight market.

The company website boasts: “Fundamental to our success is our adherence to the principles of small business – ours is a personal business. Efficiency, reliability and personal service are the cornerstones of our success. We refuse to become one of those large and impersonal corporations.”

The firm values simplicity and hard work – a reduction in complicated systems and processes and an increase in communication and respect within its workforce. Mr Armstrong explains, “We place value around hard work but also while having a bit of fun at the same time . . . It’s about [saying]: ‘This is the job we have to do; how are we going to do it well?’ and ‘Let’s get people involved and let’s do the hard work and get it done.'”

For Densford Civil, ‘getting it done’ means more than just completing the job – the company also places a high value on quality assurance and safety. Says Mr Armstrong: “We learn from our mistakes and we try to improve all the time.”

This dedication has been the driving factor in increasing Densford Civil’s safety standards in recent years, as the company nears its three year mark of no loss-time injuries (since July 2008). Mark Armstrong explains that the company endeavours to create straightforward safety procedures for its workers and to open the channels for communication before anyone steps foot on a job site. He adds that often the industry focus is placed on filling out forms, rather than proper education and collaboration with the workforce.

“It’s about simplicity,” remarks Mr Armstrong, “giving the guys simple and easy tools and processes to use and making sure that they’re supported in terms of being able to stop and think and ask the questions before they go out onto the job . . . Our view is that the safety and collaboration before the task is performed is more important than filling in the form, but the paperwork is something that shows that you’ve gone through that process.”

This theme extends to the firm’s use of technology and equipment. Though Densford Civil does maintain latest generation plant equipment and technologies as well as software systems, the emphasis is still on simplicity and making each process uncomplicated to ensure maximum productivity and safety. In turn, this translates into better results for Densford Civil’s clients, who receive well-designed and high quality results without long process times.

Contributing to this is Densford Civil’s commitment to offering – wherever possible – a complete solution. “We try to do the work where we can,” says Mr Armstrong. Where outside services are required, such as for electrical or underground work, the company will “contract in” the work itself in order to more tightly control the project in terms of quality control and timeline adherence.

“The two things explained to me when I started in my role were around safety – and how important that is – but the other was around values with our customer,” continues Mr Armstrong. “We don’t argue with our customers, we don’t try to rip them off. We just work well with them and . . . we try to solve problems, otherwise we might as well not be there.”

The results of this approach can be seen in Densford Civil’s recent work on the Whitfords and Greenwood railway stations, where the company was employed by the Public Transport Authority to create new car park extensions and retaining walls. The task required Densford Civil to work together with the PTA to ensure that the greater community was made aware of the process, as the pedestrian and cycle routes needed to be maintained throughout the project. Additionally, Densford Civil was proud to suggest an alternate reinforced earth wall system – resulting in around a million dollar saving for tax payers.

While Densford Civil has become a strong choice for government agencies, including the PTA and also Main Roads Western Australia, who engaged the company for its Karratha Dampier highway duplication project in January 2010, the company is also a popular choice for private developers, companies and contractors alike. Showcasing this versatility is Densford Civil’s recent involvement in the $4 million 2D Phase of Australand’s Port Coogee project. As one of Australia’s largest coastal renewal projects, ultimately offering a world-class marina and residential estate, it speaks not only to the broad range of skills offered by Densford Civil but also to its strength and reputation as a company capable of excellence.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

November 21, 2018, 3:44 AM AEDT